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Napa developer purchases downtown post office

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A buyer has come forward for Downtown Napa’s historic Franklin Station post office, which suffered extensive damage in the August 2014 earthquake, and has sat vacant since.

The buyer is Jim Keller, a Napa real estate agent and developer, who has tentative plans for a mixed-use development for the ½-acre property.

“We’re going to re-purpose and develop around it with some residential, commercial, and hospitality aspects, with the post office as the center showpiece,” Keller said.

The main level of the building is approximately 7,000 square feet, with another 5,000 square feet in the basement. Keller said it will cost about $8 million just to restore the building, including a seismic retrofit, and maintain and restore historic features of the building.

Keller also owns the Main Street Exchange building next to Napa Creek and the Young building at Third and Coombs streets in downtown.

The post office, located on Second Street, was built in the 1933 in an art deco style. After the earthquake, the United States Postal Service advised the city that it was considering demolition of the building. The agency said that it would cost $8 million to repair quake damage, while it would cost only $500,000 for demolition. After concerted effort to save the building, spearheaded by Congressman Mike Thompson, the USPS agreed to put it up for sale.

Keller said he purchased the building for essentially sentimental reasons.

“Our (family) post office box has been there since I was born. I’d been getting mail there my whole life. After the first buyer bailed, I’m one of the very few to look at it and at least try to restore it,” he said.

The deal is expected to close in 90 days and Keller is about one year away from putting plans in place.

Cynthia Sweeney covers health care, hospitality, residential real estate, education, employment and business insurance. Reach her at Cynthia.Sweeney@busjrnl.com or call 707-521-4259.

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